Serena Williams once told American teenager Alexandra Stevenson something to help her feel less intimidated when playing seeded opponents. Stevenson calls it duck hunting.
"Seeds are like ducks, so it's like lining up your ducks and just taking them out," Stevenson said, making a shooting motion with her fingers. "So I took out a duck today. It's fun to do."
Williams defaulted from Wimbledon before it even began, but Stevenson, 18, has taken her friend's advice, bagging just about everything in her path. She defeated No. 11 seed Julie Halard-Decugis, 6-3, 6-3, today to advance into the fourth round in only her second career Grand Slam; she was eliminated in the U.S. Open's first round last year.
A regular on the junior circuit, Stevenson would have been involved in more main draw tournaments earlier in her career, but she chose to finish high school instead. She missed the French Open to attend her prom and graduation ceremony, then declared herself a professional after winning her second match here.
"This is like my coming-out party," said Stevenson, who lives in San Diego. "I came and was ready to go, and I also think my game has matured a lot. I don't want to go to college anymore. I want to go later on in my career, maybe when I'm 30 or 35, but not right now."
The daughter of sports journalist Samantha Stevenson, Alexandra grew up around professional athletes and has been focused on tennis since the age of 3. She received advice from Bobby Riggs, Tracy Austin and Don Budge as a child, participating in a memorable tennis camp session with Riggs that involved some ill-fated target practice. Riggs spread some orange cones around the court and put $100 bills underneath them. He told Stevenson that if she hit the cones, she could have the money.
"But I never got the money because he made sure I never hit the cone," she said. "He would say, `Too bad, you were this close, maybe next time,' but I never got the $100."
Dokic Scrapes By
Australian qualifier Jelena Dokic played inconsistent tennis in a messy match against Anne Kremer but managed to fight her way to a 6-7 (9-7), 6-3, 6-4 victory to advance to the fourth round. The 16-year-old Dokic, who knocked off No. 1 seed Martina Hingis in the first round, looked nervous at times, stopping to argue line calls and double-faulting when she lost her concentration. But she played well on the biggest points, eventually holding her serve to take the match. When it was finally over she looked relieved, clapping her hands against her racket as she gestured toward the crowd.
"I definitely did not play as good as against Hingis, but it was a different type of opponent and a different type of game," she said. "I think if you have a better opponent it forces you to play better, but I'm glad to get out of the match and glad to get a win."
Dokic will next play No. 9 seed Mary Pierce, who defeated Elena Wagner, 6-3, 6-0, today. . . .
Venus Williams will play for the United States in the team's Federation Cup matches against Italy later this summer. Williams said she hoped her sister Serena would also commit to play but was not sure of Serena's decision. Both Williams sisters must at least make themselves available for the Federation Cup if they want to qualify to play in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
When: Through July 4.
Where: All England club, Wimbledon.
Defending champions: Pete Sampras, Jana Novotna.
Top seeds: Sampras, Martina Hingis.
Today's TV: There are no matches today.
Yesterday's results: Men -- Patrick Rafter (2), Australia, def. Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-2; Andre Agassi (4), United States, def. Alberto Martin, Spain, 6-2, 6-0, 2-6, 6-3; Lorenzo Manta, Switzerland, def. Richard Krajicek (5), Netherlands, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 4-6, 6-4; Boris Becker, Germany, def. Lleyton Hewitt, Australia, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5); Wayne Arthurs, Australia, def. Tommy Haas (14), Germany, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2). Women -- Lindsay Davenport (3), United States, def. Laura Golarsa, Italy, 6-3, 6-2; Jana Novotna (5), Czech Republic, def. Maria Antonia Sanchez Lorenzo, Spain, 6-4, 6-3; Mary Pierce (9), France, def. Elena Wagner, Germany, 6-3, 6-0; Alexandra Stevenson, United States, def. Julie Halard-Decugis (11), France, 6-3, 6-3; Lisa Raymond, United States, def. Conchita Martinez, Spain, 6-3, 6-1; Jelena Dokic, Australia, def. Anne Kremer, Luxembourg, 6-7 (9-7), 6-3, 6-4.
Monday's featured matches: Men -- Pete Sampras (1), United States, vs. Daniel Nestor, Canada; Boris Becker, Germany, vs. Patrick Rafter (2), Australia; Wayne Arthurs, Australia, vs. Andre Agassi (4), United States; Jim Courier, United States, vs. Tim Henman (6), Britain; Greg Rusedski (9), Britain, vs. Mark Philippoussis (7), Australia. Women -- Kim Clijsters, Belgium, vs. Steffi Graf (2), Germany; Lindsay Davenport (3), United States, vs. Barbara Schett (14), Austria; Nathalie Dechy, France, vs. Jana Novotna (5), Czech Republic; Venus Williams (6), United States, vs. Anna Kournikova (17), Russia; Jelena Dokic, Australia, vs. Mary Pierce (9), France.